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Music From The Turn of the (18th) Century

This weekend, Magnificat will perform three concerts that will feature music by two of the most respected and influential composers at the turn of the 18th century: Alessandro Scarlatti and Arcangelo Corelli. The program will feature soprano Catherine Webster and focus on the intersection of the rich tradition of “pastoral” music and settings of the Christmas story.

Scarlatti and Corelli knew each other well, each having benefited from the patronage of the exiled Queen Christina of Sweden in the 1680s. They were inducted together into the Arcadian Academy in 1706. Corelli had lead orchestras for productions of Scarlatti’s operas and Scarlatti was influenced by the violinist’s virtuoso performances and the crisp, clear tonal language of his sonatas and concerti.

Webster will sing three cantatas by Scarlatti, two specifically associated with Christmas and one from the pastoral tradition that touches on themes on longing and darkness that resonate with the Advent season. Though Scarlatti wrote operas and oratorios, it is in his more intimate works of vocal chamber music that his most perfectly realized and imaginative music is to be found, as he excelled in the art of the soliloquy, in detailed imagery, and in dialogue between voice and instruments.

In addition to the vocal music, Magnificat will perform three instrumental works, including two concerti grossi performed as sonatas “a quattro” – that is, as chamber music rather than with a full orchestra. Violinist Rob Diggins will be featured in the first of Corelli’s magnificent collection of violin sonatas.

The program can be heard on Friday December 7 at 8:00 p.m. at First Lutheran Church, Homer and Webster in Palo Alto; Saturday December 8 at 8:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Bancroft and Ellsworth in Berkeley; and Sunday December 9 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 111 O’Farrell in San Francisco. Pre-concert lectures begin 45 minutes before each performance and are open to all ticket-holders. For tickets or more information please call 800-853-8155 or visit www.magnificatbaroque.org.

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